York, a charming small city nestled in the southern part of York County, Maine, has always held a special place in my heart. With a population of around 12,000, York enjoys a picturesque location along the Gulf of Maine, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
What makes York even more enchanting is the presence of its four distinct villages: York Beach, York Harbor, York Village, and Cape Neddick. Each village has its own unique character, and together they form a vibrant tapestry of captivating beaches and captivating tourist attractions.
The history of York stretches back centuries, with European settlers first arriving in 1624. Originally known as Agamenticus, a name derived from the Abenaki language referring to the York River, the town’s official incorporation took place in 1652, making it the second oldest town in Maine. As a traveler who has always been drawn to the allure of beautiful places like Maine, I find York’s rich history and cultural heritage fascinating.
Now, let me share with you some of the top things to do and explore when spending time in York.
1. Admire the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse
As someone who doesn’t have the luxury of living near the ocean, witnessing the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse is truly a delightful experience. While it may not be the grandest lighthouse in terms of size, its presence never fails to fill me with awe.
Perched atop the Cape Neddick Nubble, a charming little rocky island, this lighthouse holds a special place in the hearts of photographers nationwide. Its picturesque allure has made it one of the most captured lighthouses in the entire country. Year after year, thousands of visitors are drawn to its captivating charm.
Regardless of the season, the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse is worth a visit. However, it becomes even more enchanting when adorned with delightful Christmas decorations. The festive ambiance adds an extra layer of fascination to this already mesmerizing landmark.
2. Relax at Long Sands Beach
I’m fortunate to have discovered the serene beauty of Long Sands Beach, which conveniently sits in close proximity to the picturesque lighthouse. This stunning beach provides the ideal setting for a truly relaxing and rejuvenating vacation experience.
As I lounge on the soft sand, basking in the warm sun, I can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility wash over me. Long Sands Beach offers ample space, ensuring that it doesn’t become overcrowded easily. This allows me to fully immerse myself in the peaceful ambiance and enjoy my time to the fullest.
There are countless activities to indulge in while at Long Sands Beach. Whether it’s taking a refreshing dip in the sparkling waters, admiring the awe-inspiring vistas that stretch before me, stargazing under the night sky, or even trying my hand at surfing, there’s something to cater to every preference. This beach truly offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors of all ages.
What sets Long Sands Beach apart from others is its serene and family-friendly atmosphere. You won’t find loud beach parties or bustling crowds here. Instead, it’s a place where families can create cherished memories, children can build sandcastles to their heart’s content, and everyone can find solace in the gentle sounds of crashing waves.
3. Hike Mount Agamenticus
I’ve come to realize that York, as a tourist destination, truly offers the best of both worlds: breathtaking ocean views and majestic mountain scenery. One particular gem that stands out is Mount Agamenticus, which has captivated both hikers and bikers alike.
The well-maintained paths allowed me to immerse myself in the tranquil ambiance of the mountain while soaking in the fresh air. Along the way, I noticed informative signs scattered throughout, providing fascinating insights into the distant sights that unfolded before my eyes.
What makes Mount Agamenticus even more enticing is the convenience it offers. Parking is free, and the hike itself is relatively short, ensuring accessibility for individuals of various fitness levels. However, the true magic lies at the summit. As I reached the top, the panoramic view that awaited me surpassed all expectations. The 360-degree vista showcased the sheer magnificence of the surrounding landscape, leaving me in awe of nature’s grandeur.
Describing the view alone cannot do justice to the experience. You simply have to see it with your own eyes to truly appreciate its splendor. The breathtaking combination of ocean and mountain vistas creates a mesmerizing tableau that etches itself into your memory.
4. Take the kids to York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park
York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo And Fun Park is not just a place for kids—it’s an adventure that people of all ages can enjoy. While children are sure to be delighted by the assortment of animals, the petting zoo, thrilling rides, mini-golf, and even the haunted house, I found myself equally captivated by the experiences offered.
One of the highlights of the zoo is the opportunity for children to engage with the animals. While observing the exotic creatures from a distance is fascinating, it’s the chance to interact with the friendlier ones that truly sets this place apart. Kids can feed ducks, goats, and deer, embark on an exciting camel or pony ride, and even have the thrill of holding a snake. The joy and excitement on their faces are truly priceless.
As I explored the zoo, I was pleased to find that cleanliness and animal welfare were top priorities. The zoo staff ensures that the premises are well-maintained, creating a pleasant and hygienic environment for visitors. The animals are clearly well cared for, and it warms my heart to see their health and happiness as they roam their habitats.
5. Jump aboard a Granite State Growler Tour
While you have the option to visit each three brewery individually, I highly recommend embarking on the remarkable journey provided by the award-winning Granite State Growler Tour.
This craft brewery bus tour was the first of its kind in our area, and it offers an unforgettable experience. The vehicle that will transport you on this exciting adventure is fondly known as “Greta the Growler Getta.” With a unique name and a promise of fantastic discoveries, Greta sets the stage for an incredible four-hour journey.
During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the finest breweries in York and the seacoast of New Hampshire. The tour staff at each location will personally guide you through their facilities, providing fascinating insights into the brewing process and sharing the stories behind their craft. Best of all, tastings are included in the tour price, allowing you to savor a variety of flavorful brews along the way.
6. Taste some amazing bread at “When Pigs Fly”
Prepare to be pleasantly surprised when you step into the whimsically named bakery, When Pigs Fly, and experience the extraordinary flavors of their 25 different types of bread. This all-natural bakery not only specializes in bread but also crafts delectable pretzels, cookies, and donuts.
As I took my first bite of their bread, I was blown away by its incredible taste and texture. Each loaf is a masterpiece in itself, baked to perfection with a delightful crust and a soft, flavorful interior. However, to truly enhance your bread-eating experience, When Pigs Fly offers a range of complementary products that are simply irresistible. From artisanal butter to a delectable assortment of jams, olive oils, and more, the store ensures that every bite of their bread is accompanied by a burst of additional flavors.
While the bread alone is worth a visit, I highly recommend exploring the full range of their offerings. Indulge in the assortment of bread varieties, each with its own unique blend of ingredients and flavors. From hearty whole wheat to aromatic herb-infused loaves, there’s something to satisfy every palate.
And if you’re craving something beyond bread, don’t miss the opportunity to try their incredible pizza. Crafted with the same dedication and expertise as their renowned bread, the pizza at When Pigs Fly is nothing short of extraordinary. Each bite is a symphony of flavors, with fresh ingredients and a perfectly baked crust that is sure to leave you craving more.
7. Shop and eat at Stonewall Kitchen
I was amazed by Stonewall Kitchen’s array of offerings available within their multiple facilities. This culinary haven encompasses a production site, a store brimming with culinary treasures, a delightful café, and even a cooking school for those eager to sharpen their skills.
Entering the store, I was delighted to find a treasure trove of culinary delights that catered to every aspect of home and kitchen needs. From top-notch cookware and tableware to innovative gadgets and charming decorative items, Stonewall Kitchen had it all. Browsing through the aisles, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the vast selection of high-quality products that would elevate any cooking or dining experience.
While it may be tempting to stock up on kitchen items, I soon discovered that Stonewall Kitchen offers more than just tangible goods. The café within their premises beckoned me with the irresistible aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tantalizing desserts. Knowing I couldn’t resist, I decided to treat myself to one of their absolutely delicious desserts. Indulging in the sweet delight was a perfect way to savor the culinary expertise of Stonewall Kitchen without the need to carry extra items throughout the remainder of my vacation.
8. Visit the George Marshall Store Gallery
The George Marshall Store Gallery is a treasure trove of artistic expression, showcasing an impressive collection of unique sculptures, paintings, and crafts. As I wandered through the gallery, I was captivated by the diverse works on display, representing both established artists and emerging talents.
The curation of the artwork was impeccable, with each piece thoughtfully presented to enhance its visual impact. The gallery’s commitment to showcasing a variety of art forms and styles created an enriching and immersive experience for visitors like myself. From thought-provoking sculptures to captivating paintings, every corner of the George Marshall Store Gallery was a testament to the beauty and power of artistic expression.
What sets this gallery apart is its ever-changing exhibitions. With new showcases regularly introduced, there is always something fresh and inspiring to discover. This dynamic approach encourages repeat visits, allowing art enthusiasts and curious visitors alike to experience the gallery’s evolving landscape and be exposed to a wide range of artistic perspectives.
Beyond its exhibitions, the George Marshall Store Gallery is also dedicated to fostering education and engagement with the arts. The gallery hosts a variety of educational programs, providing opportunities for visitors to deepen their understanding of artistic techniques, cultural influences, and the creative process itself. These programs add an extra layer of enrichment to the gallery experience, allowing visitors to engage with the art on a deeper level.
9. Browse the John Hancock Wharf & Warehouse
One of the most intriguing aspects of the John Hancock Wharf & Warehouse is its remarkable historical significance, as it was once owned by none other than John Hancock himself during the 1780s. As a prominent figure in American history, Hancock held influential roles such as the president of the Second Continental Congress, a distinguished patriot of the American Revolution, and a governor in Massachusetts.
Today, the John Hancock Wharf & Warehouse stands as a testament to its storied past, offering visitors a glimpse into history while immersing themselves in the world of art. The warehouse has been transformed into a captivating space that houses a collection of impressive art galleries. From breathtaking paintings that come alive with vibrant hues, to intricate sculptures that evoke a sense of wonder, and even exquisite pottery that showcases the mastery of skilled artisans, the galleries within the John Hancock Wharf & Warehouse offer a diverse range of artistic expressions.
As an integral part of the Museums of Old York, this historic site is perfectly situated near the idyllic scenery of the York River. Combining the allure of the waterfront with the cultural richness of art, the John Hancock Wharf & Warehouse offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors of all ages.
10. Stroll through the Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods
If you’re yearning for a serene and rejuvenating outdoor experience, I highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll along the enchanting York River on the Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods. This picturesque location offers the perfect retreat for a relaxing afternoon amidst nature’s beauty.
As I ventured onto the Wiggly Bridge, I was immediately captivated by the tranquility that enveloped the area. The riverbanks were pristine and well-maintained, providing an idyllic setting for a leisurely walk. Along the way, I marveled at the sight of numerous boats gracefully gliding across the water, ranging from personal vessels to the iconic lobster boats that epitomize the coastal charm of Maine.
Crossing the distinctive Wiggly Bridge served as a gateway to an even more captivating landscape—the breathtaking Steedman Woods Nature Reserve. This sanctuary of natural beauty unfolds on one side of the bridge, with the glistening York River flowing gracefully, while the serene Barrell Mill Pond graces the other side.
The trail that winds through Steedman Woods is a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Its length is perfectly suited for a leisurely stroll, allowing you to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature at your own pace.
What makes this experience particularly appealing is the cleanliness, peace, and quietude that permeate the surroundings. It’s a place where you can reconnect with nature, find solace in its serenity, and rejuvenate your senses.
11. Visit the Old York Gaol
The Old York Gaol, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of history within its ancient walls. This remarkable prison, built in the distant year of 1720, stands as a testament to the past and serves as one of the oldest prison buildings in the entire United States.
Over the course of centuries, the Old York Gaol has witnessed expansions and transformations, shaping its present-day form as a captivating tourist destination. Today, it stands proudly as a cherished part of the Museums of Old York, a collection dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich heritage of this remarkable region. The significance of this historical site is further recognized by its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1968, a testament to its enduring importance.
As I explored the dimly lit cells, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the stories that were etched into the walls. Each cell whispered tales of individuals who once called this place home, their presence lingering in the faded inscriptions that bore witness to their confinement. Reading about the crimes they committed, I gained a deeper understanding of the harsh realities that unfolded within these confines, a stark reminder of the justice system of the past.
12. Relax at Yoga on York
If you’re seeking a rejuvenating experience for both your body and mind, look no further than Yoga On York. As a devoted yogi or someone eager to explore the world of yoga, this studio is a must-visit destination. Nestled within a cozy space, Yoga on York may be small, but it provides everything you need for a blissful and serene yoga session. As soon as I entered, I was greeted by warm smiles from the friendly staff, creating an inviting and welcoming atmosphere. The teachers here are experienced and knowledgeable, guiding practitioners of all levels with expertise and care.
What sets Yoga on York apart is their dedication to offering more than just an indoor studio practice. When the weather permits, they organize a range of outdoor classes, workshops, and events that immerse you in nature’s embrace. Picture yourself engaging in an invigorating beach yoga session, synchronizing your breath with the sound of crashing waves. Or perhaps you’d prefer a tranquil hiking yoga experience, surrounded by the lush beauty of the outdoors. These opportunities provide a unique and refreshing perspective on the practice, allowing you to connect with both your inner self and the natural world.
13. Enjoy bowling and games at Funorama
Looking for a place where the whole family can let loose and have a blast? Look no further than Funorama! Whether you’re a kid or an adult yearning to reconnect with your inner child, this entertainment center has it all.
The array of activities and games on offer is truly impressive. From classic bowling alleys where you can aim for that perfect strike to the nostalgic skeeball lanes that bring back fond memories, there’s something for everyone here. I couldn’t resist challenging my friends to an intense game of air hockey, which brought out the competitive spirit in all of us. And who can resist the allure of mini-golf, navigating through whimsical obstacles and aiming for that elusive hole-in-one?
While the games are undoubtedly the main attraction, Funorama goes above and beyond by offering delectable treats to satisfy your hunger. I indulged in a slice of mouthwatering pizza that hit the spot perfectly, and washed it down with a refreshing glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. It’s the perfect way to refuel and recharge before diving back into the fun-filled activities.
14. Hit the water at Silverlining Sailing
If you’re in search of a truly special sailing excursion, I highly recommend Silverlining Sailing. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice seeking a new adventure, the captain’s passion and the intimate setting will leave a lasting impression.
As we set sail, the harbor unfolded before us, revealing its picturesque charm. The tranquil waters and gentle breeze created a serene ambiance, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the beauty of the surroundings. The captain’s expert navigation skills ensured a smooth and enjoyable ride, while the stunning ocean views took my breath away.
One aspect that sets Silverlining Sailing apart is the intimate nature of each trip. With a maximum capacity of just six people, the boat never feels overcrowded. This limited group size allowed for a personalized experience, as the captain and crew had ample time to interact with each passenger. They enthusiastically answered any questions we had, further enhancing our understanding and appreciation of sailing.
15. Ride a Retro Style Trolley Bus
Embarking on a delightful journey through the charming streets of York is made even more special when you hop aboard a vintage trolley bus operated by the York Trolley Company. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia as I stepped onto the classic trolley, ready to explore the city in style.
The convenience of the trolley service is undeniable. With rides departing every half hour, there is no need to wait long for your adventure to begin. As we embarked on our tour, I couldn’t help but notice the wide-open windows, inviting in the refreshing ocean breeze. It was the perfect way to experience the coastal charm of York while enjoying the comfort of the trolley.
One thing to note is that the trolley tours are only available during the summer season. This ensures that you can fully immerse yourself in the warmth and beauty of the season without worrying about getting chilly. Summer truly comes alive as you cruise through the streets, taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city.
The company also rents out their stylish trolley busses for weddings, proms and other special events.